Transport Minister: new train purchase could be delayed in Latvia

Rejection of the idea of old vehicle tax calls for a review of several plans, for example, purchase of new passenger  trains, said Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits  to Latvian Radio October 12.

The Ministry of Transport  planned to charge approximately EUR 15 million per year with a second-hand car registration fee. This money was intended to be used for repairs of regional and local roads and starting the construction of bicycle lanes along the country’s main roads. A large part of this amount was intended to be used for the procurement of diesel trains.

Currently, funding for these planned positions will be sought through review of other programs. The situation with diesel trains at the disposal of the “Passenger Train” is only getting worse because the purchase of spare parts is no longer possible, Transport Minister said.

“We’re talking about replacing  Zvezda’s  engine trains. (..) if there are any technical difficulties with the engines, then we cannot purchase the necessary spare parts from Russia. Accordingly, the number of diesel trains in Latvia will be reduced, and the volume of transport by rail will decrease,” Linkaits said.

The next year’s budget for the procurement of diesel trains amounted to EUR 4.8 million, EUR 989 000 in 2022 and almost EUR 5 million in 2023. The Ministry of Transport considers alternative financing options, for example, that the company Pasažieru vilciens (Passenger Train) could borrow the necessary funds from banks and could offset these costs later from the State budget. However, the Ministry is already estimating how passengers will feel the shrinkage of the diesel train number.

“The procurement has been announced and the  first round has been completed  . In fact, we have to decide pretty soon whether we are moving forward with it. If we do not move, we will have to look at the possibilities of reducing the number of trains in Vidzeme, and there will be no longer a combination of trains in Latgale’s direction. Three separate trains will have to go instead,” the minister said.

New diesel trains were scheduled to arrive in 2023.


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